Marketing makeover for panhandlers


by ABC News

Posted on July 4, 2014 at 2:17 PM

Updated Friday, Jul 4 at 3:02 PM

(ABC News) - Some panhandlers use signs to try to get money from people on the street. Most of those signs are not very creative, but what if they were? Would it make a difference?
Anthony Bustos' philosophy is simple: getting a little change starts with a smile.

"I thought this is an easy way I can help these guys increase their income," he said.

He's talking about the signs he has designed that read: "The government stole my sunscreen" and
"I'm way too sober for this".

He's handed out at least 15 so far, giving the homeless a marketing makeover in hopes a laugh translates to a donation.

Bustos keeps a spare sign in his car, so when he's driving and sees someone who needs it, he has one immediately ready."

"I kind of just wait for the right person, and if I feel like they're standing out there with a sign that can be improved I roll the window down and say, hey you guys, want a new sign?"

This social experiment started a few months ago.

He was driving down Van Ness and saw a panhandler with a sign that just said, "Poor, hungry."

"I had no inclination to give him any money, and I was wondering if something funny were written on the sign, would I give him some money, and I decided I probably would have," Bustos said.

And it's working, for some. One man told Bustos his sign was attracting a lot of tourists, some asking to take pictures with him.

“I am not really in a position to help someone find a job. I'm not an employer or a staffer. I'm just a regular guy so I think we all kind of do what we are capable of," Bustos said.

He said his friends want to help, too, by either making signs or inspiring catchy phrases.

"We don't always don't always have to change the world. We can do something small to make a small difference and that's okay," Bustos said.

He said he doesn't know if the signs change much, but it's changed him.

For more stories like this, check out ABC News.